|Last updated: 6/24/04 3:32 PM|
|Last updated: 6/24/04 3:32 PM|
Published: Mon, Jun 21, 2004
Republicans clamoring to rename more buildings for Ronald Reagan, redesign currency or coins to bear his image or strike a new likeness into Mount Rushmore should let history take its course. Such decisions should not be made when emotions are running high.
Reagan died June 5 after a 10-year struggle with Alzheimer's disease. He was buried June 11 after a week of national mourning. The observances culminated in a funeral in Washington, after which the body of the 93-year-old former actor and California governor who served as the 40th president from 1981 to 1989 was flown to its final resting place, the Reagan Presidential Library in California.
No one can deny that he was afforded more than the appropriate amount of respect and honor, which is why the campaign by the Ronald Reagan Legacy Project to put his picture on the $10 bill (in place of Alexander Hamilton) and a separate effort to have a memorial on the National Mall in Washington seem so blatantly political.
It isn't as though Reagan has been ignored. He has an aircraft carrier, an airport, office buildings and highways named for him, and last week the U.S. Postal Service announced it would issue a postage stamp bearing his image in 2005.
The Postal Service is working with the Reagan family on the necessary arrangements for the stamp, which is how it should be.
Indeed, the family is objecting to a campaign advertisement unveiled Tuesday that aligns Reagan with President Bush and criticizes Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry.
"No one has requested the permission to use his image in an ad, nor would we feel it appropriate to give such permission at this juncture," said Joanne Drake, the family's spokeswoman. "We protect his image very carefully, particularly as it relates to politics."
The ad campaign was launched by The Club for Growth, a conservative interest group.
Nancy Reagan has urged supporters to respect the family's wish for privacy, but it seems that in this highly charged presidential election year, Republicans are determined to get as much mileage as they can from Reagan's death.
It is noteworthy that during his tenure in the White House, Reagan signed into law a bill that says no memorial to a person can be erected in Washington, D.C., until 25 years after his death. As for the National Mall, Congress declared last year that the new World War II memorial made the mall a completed work of art.
Only 11 presidents have monuments in the nation's capital, and the National Park Service is working on Eisenhower and Adams. The dedication of the FDR Memorial came 40 years after it was authorized in 1959.
If the Republicans are truly committed to keeping the memory of Ronald Reagan alive, they would heed the criticism from his son, Ron Jr., of the GOP's opposition to embryonic stem research, which could have a significant benefit for Alzheimer's patients.
"Now ignorance is one thing, ignorance can be cured," Ron Jr. said in an interview with Slate magazine. "But many of the Republican leaders opposing this research know better, people like [Senate Majority Leader] Bill Frist, who's a doctor, for God's sake. People like him are blocking it to pander to the 20 percent of their base who are mouth-breathers. And that's unconscionable there are lives at stake here. Stem cell research can revolutionize medicine, more than anything since antibiotics."